UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Gaethje Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Glendale, Ariz.

Updated: April 12, 2018 • 3:50 PM ET

"The Karate Hottie" is looking to get back to her winning ways on Saturday.

The UFC will head to Glendale, Ariz. this Saturday for UFC Fight Night, featuring two lightweights trying to shake up the title picture. No. 5 ranked Dustin Poirier will take on No. 6 Justin Gaethje, as both men attempt to solidify their position as a contender in arguably the UFC’s toughest division.


Most recently defeating Anthony Pettis by third-round TKO in November, Poirier has found a new spark in the lightweight division after his final fight at featherweight against Conor McGregor in September 2014. Since the loss to McGregor, Poirier has gone 6-1 with a no contest at lightweight, and his only setback came against Michael Johnson nearly two years to the day after he lost to McGregor. The no contest came against former champion Eddie Alvarez, who illegally but “accidentally” kneed Poirier in the head while his hand was on the mat in May 2017.


A win over a rising talent like Gaethje would represent the signature win that Poirier needs to be considered a title contender. Given the recent developments within the top three of the lightweight division, he would likely still have a long way to go. Nevertheless, Poirier’s No. 5 ranking and 22-5 (1 NC) record shows his body of work.


Gaethje arrived in the UFC undefeated from WSOF with a ton of hype and a reputation that he’s willing to absorb the same amount of punishment that he inflicts. He debuted in July 2017 against Michael Johnson and lived up to the hype and reputation, as he took part in one of the best fights in recent memory. It was a back-and-forth brawl, at the end of which Gaethje won via second round knockout, but not before being badly hurt and nearly finished by Johnson.


The win against Johnson landed him a fight with Alvarez, and it was hard to imagine that the bout could overshadow his previous fight — But it did. For nearly three rounds, the two traded shot after shot, as Gaethje devastated Alvarez’s lead leg while getting pounded to the body in the process. Gaethje eventually lost after receiving a perfectly placed knee by Alvarez, but he did not lose any respect.


The question moving forward is: how long can Gaethje maintain his fighting style before the damage begins to be too much? If he defeats Poirier this weekend, he’ll remind everyone just how dangerous he is. Like Poirier, Gaethje (18-1, 1-1 in UFC) will have an uncertain road to a title shot, but it’s not out of the question.






The rest of the main card


The main card will also showcase a welterweight fight between No. 12 Carlos Condit and Alex Oliveira. Condit is riding a three-fight losing streak since challenging for the welterweight title for the second time in his career in January 2016, a loss to Robbie Lawler. He originally looked to rebound from the losing streak against Matt Brown, but an injury forced Brown to withdraw and he was replaced by Oliveira. Condit hasn’t looked like the same fighter who defeated Nick Diaz in 2012, Rory MacDonald in 2010 and Dan Hardy the same year. Nevertheless, a convincing win could confirm that the 33-year-old isn’t slowing down.


Oliveira is 7-3 (1 NC) in the UFC, but coming off a Fight of the Night loss to Yancy Medeiros in December. The fight was one of the best in 2017, as Oliveira traded powerful shots with Medeiros until losing by third-round knockout. Oliveira is one of the most durable fighters in the division, having fought three times in 2017 and four times in 2016. He’s looking to get back to his winning ways in his first fight of 2018.




The main card will also feature a middleweight fight between Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori. Adesanya made his spectacular UFC debut in February, defeating Rob Wilkinson with a second-round knockout. Vettori is 2-1-1 in the UFC, most recently scoring a draw against Omari Akhmedov in December.


Rounding out the main card will be a strawweight fight between No. 7 Michelle Waterson and No. 10 Cortney Casey. Waterson is coming off two straight losses after starting 2-0 in the UFC, while Casey is 3-4 in the UFC, most recently losing to Felice Herrig in December.






Fox Prelims


Middleweight fight - Tim Boetsch vs. Antonio Carlos Junior


Welterweight fight - Muslim Salikhov vs. Ricky Rainey


Flyweight fight - No. 6 Wilson Reis vs. No. 10 John Moraga


Middleweight fight - No. 13 Krysztof Jotko vs. No. 15 Brad Tavares





UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims


Lightweight fight - Gilbert Burns vs. Dan Moret


Women’s flyweight fight - No. 15 Shana Dobson vs. Lauren Mueller


Welterweight fight - Dhiego Lima vs. Yushin Okami


Heavyweight fight - Arjan Singh Bhullar vs. Adam Wieczorek


Bantamweight fight - Matthew Lopez vs. Alejandro Pérez


Bantamweight fight - Luke Sanders vs. Patrick Williams

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